Students invent device to minimise risks in dialysis

June 29th, 2011 - 5:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 29 (IANS) Biomedical engineering students have invented a device to cut down the risk of infection, clotting and narrowing of blood vessels during dialysis.

The device, implanted under the skin in a patient’s leg, would provide easy access to the patient’s bloodstream, easily opened and shut at the beginning and end of a dialysis.

Currently, the prototype is being tested on animals. The students from Johns Hopkins University, the US, learned about the need for such a device last year while accompanying physicians on hospital rounds.

They watched as one doctor performed a procedure to open a narrowed blood vessel at a kidney patient’s dialysis access site. They learned that this narrowing was a common complication facing kidney patients, according to a Hopkins statement.

They also discovered that kidney failure each year requires 1.5 million people globally and 350,000 in the US alone to go through regular hemodialysis to prevent a fatal build-up of toxins.

They also learned that the three most common ways to connect the machine to a patient’s bloodstream work only for a limited time because of problems with infection, blood clots and narrowing of the blood vessels.

Current dialysis access options are “grossly inadequate,” contributing to increased healthcare expenses and, in some cases, patient deaths, the students say.

Accordingly, students developed an access port that can be implanted in the leg beneath the skin, reducing the risk of infection. The port’s two valves can be opened by a dialysis technician with a syringe from outside the skin.

The student inventors said the port’s leg connection should allow the site to remain in use for a significantly longer period of time.

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